New Players are Making the Difference – Everyone Laugh at Tottenham

Wojcieh Szczesny

It’s almost December and Arsenal are still first!

To begin the blog off, I would like to pay tribute to Gunners Legend Pat Rice, who is currently receiving treatment for cancer. Pat Rice is a true Arsenal legend, both on and off the pitch. It’s been unusual not seeing him next to Wenger for the past season and a half, as you always used to see him screaming at players to do more. I would like to wish him a speedy recovery.

When you look at the reasons why Arsenal are first, it comes down simply to one thing, consistency. Usually, Arsenal and consistency are not two words that coincide together, but this season it could not be much more different. When you look at the start of the season, there were many ways in which you can fault the Arsenal squad. You could say that they were not old enough, strong enough, or even just good enough. Then came the signing of Mesut Ozil. Ozil’s greatest contribution to the club has not come on the pitch but rather the immediate impact it had on everybody. Days before he joined, people were protesting against the club refusing to buy shirts, pies, or even go to the games. Now, Ozil is currently the third most sold shirt in the world. That is quite a turnaround.

It’s not just the signing of Ozil that has made the difference though. Wenger has to take credit for the position of the club because he made the entire squad from scratch almost. It seems like every player that he has signed in the past few seasons are turning out to be very good players, and since we are not a selling club anymore, we are able to gel together. Just look at some of our best players this season: Szczesny (came from the youth ranks, with many people saying that we needed to sign a new goalkeeper in the Summer), Koscielny (Joined having one year of football in a top division), Ramsey (One of our most inconsistent and frustrating players over the past couple of seasons) and Mertesacker (Had a difficult first season but has been superb in the past two). The list can keep going and going. All of these players are thanks to Wenger.

Moving away from Arsenal’s season, I would like to give a special shout out to Tottenham, London’s finest. I don’t think any gooner in the world would care if Tottenham lost 6-0 to any team every week of the season, and seeing them lose in that fashion to City last weekend was one of the greatest joys of the season. Tottenham have scored 9 goals this season, and it seems like all nine have been from the penalty spot. Look at how times have changed. At the beginning of the season, most of us were upset that Tottenham spent £100m while we were yet to spend a penny. Now look at where we are at. Don’t worry Spurs fans, you can get back on track by beating Tromso (whatever Tromso is) today in the Europa League.

Everyone one have a good day.

Yes Wenger, We Do Need a New Striker

The Arsenal players are finally back from their two week break, if you can call it a break. The majority of our players have been looking fatigued in the past weeks, and a break would have been nice for them. Instead, the majority got some pointless friendlies across the globe. It’s not all bad though, as some players like Ozil got a night off, but in all honesty, some of the players are still needing some rest.

While some players get breaks, others don’t get the chance to receive one. By some players, I mean Giroud. It is quite clear that he is our only true striker and the fact that he has no competition is worrying. Everybody in the world seems to understand that we are lacking serious depth, everyone except Wenger.

Speaking to reporters, Wenger spoke about our current striking situation:

“I think we can win the title without signing a striker,” Wenger told reporters ahead of Saturday’s Premier League clash against third place Southampton at Emirates Stadium.

“[Lukas] Podolski is not back but he shouldn’t be too far now. They make it less critical to sign a striker. Also, Theo [Walcott] gives us qualities that other players haven’t got. It’s a different option. Theo also gives us an opportunity to be a mobile striker. If we lose Giroud today we have nobody with body weight up front.

“Look, I am not against it [a January signing]. I don’t say I never make a mistake. I certainly made some. Sometimes it is because we didn’t sign the right player.

“It is always difficult in the middle of the season [to sign the right players]. If somebody is doing well somewhere the clubs do not necessarily want to sell him. They can wait until the end of the season. Most of the time it is because we didn’t find [the right players].”

Wenger isn’t necessarily saying that we aren’t going to sign anyone in January, but it doesn’t seem like he is going to be moving any mountains to try and sign a world class striker that we are desperately needing.

Looking at Giroud this season, I feel that we have an improved player who is willing to put team before himself. I am also seeing a player who is in need of a break, able to get complacent, and a tad bit overrated. Seriously, Giroud is good but not great. People comparing him to Van Persie are going a bit on the extreme side. Not to say that I wouldn’t rather Giroud on the team than Van Persie though.

Players coming back

Players coming back

The thing that I like the most about Giroud is his physicality and link up play. I don’t think there are any other strikers in the league who are able to create that link between the midfield and strikers like Giroud can. Some of the one twos he plays have been phenomenal to say the least. One that comes to mind is Wilshere’s fantastic team goal against Norwich last month. Giroud created that goal with sheer technique.

Having said that about Giroud, I still believe that he is over confident at times and not as good as people make out for him to be. Confidence is one of the most important aspects to how well a player is going to play in a certain game. Some times, Giroud has taken players on or shot from 30 yards when he should have played the simpler pass. Usually I wouldn’t mind a player going for goal from distance or trying to beat players, but Giroud has never shown that he has the ability to really dribble the ball very well or score from outside the penalty box. I can only think of one time when Giroud has scored from outside the box, in a game against Brighton in the FA Cup; besides that I don’t believe he has ever really shone in his shooting ability.

Giroud alone is not going to win us the title for two reasons: the fact that he is alone and he will really thrive with a good striking partner. I’m not talking about someone like Walcott or Podolski, I’m talking about a striker’s striker. Someone like Lewandowski or Suarez will really make a difference to our season. If we can sign a top class striker this January, we will be favourites for the league without question, and I believe actual 100% contenders. I feel antipathy whenever Wenger talks about his future transfer dealings as it seems like he never really wants to sign anyone. He surprised us on transfer deadline day, but it is not going to be enough for the whole season. Well, we have Ozil now, now it’s time to bring in another £40m player.

Fabregas Wants Arsenal Return- Lack of Strikers the Problem?

How many times does it happen? It seems like every time a player leaves Arsenal, they talk about how much they like the club and want to return. I don’t think there is any player who wouldn’t want to come back to Arsenal, unless they know that they won’t be allowed back (Van Persie and Nasri, I’m talking about you).

The latest player to become nostalgic about their time at the club is no other than our former captain, Cesc Fabregas. Our at least, to talk about one day rejoining the club.

Former Gooner

Cesc Fabregas had an interview with the Guardian, in which he spoke about his desire to rejoin the club at one stage in the future:

“Arsenal is in my heart and always will be. It was important for me to leave the right way. I think the fans understood,” Fabregas told theGuardian.

“I don’t know if I’ll have the opportunity to go back and play there one day, or maybe after football. The club’s like a family so even if it wasn’t as a coach, I’m sure they’d give me the chance to play a role. It’s a club that is always going to be there and will always open its doors to me.”

Cesc also talked about how he sees Arsenal doing this season:

“I really hope [Arsenal can win the title]. They’ve started very well. They look very strong; let’s see how they last. With Manchester there is always talk about a dip, but it never happens. A lot gets decided over Christmas: the team that hangs in there best, that can resist the best, will take the title.

“If you have the chance to sign Ozil, you can’t let it pass you by,” he said. “I think he’s going to enjoy it enormously. He’s the man who has to make the difference in the final third. His last pass is brilliant, he’ll get more space and with space he kills you. He’s going to score more goals himself because of that space. There’s no one better than him for that mediapunta [attacking midfielder] role.

“I watch the way [Aaron] Ramsey is playing now, how he looks so liberated, and I think maybe I blocked his way. Maybe I was an obstacle.

“Sometimes you need someone to leave for you to step forward and say: ‘I’m here.’ I’m saying that about Ramsey just as an example… I could say the same for Jack [Wilshere]. It’s the concept I’m talking about, the idea of stepping up. That mental unblocking is so important. Both of them have a brilliant future.

“[They can be] as good as they want. They have quality on the ball and they have the physical attributes. Ramsey’s stamina is spectacular. Wilshere is a bit different to the typical English player: he’s more of a short passer.

“Ramsey is one of those that you look at and think: ‘He doesn’t stand out in any specific quality, but he does everything, everything, well.’ His touch is good, his movement’s good, now he’s scoring goals too, providing assists. He’s a kid who as a team player is a beast. Above all, he now has the confidence, responsibility.”

Fabregas does seem to be update on current Arsenal affairs, as any true Arsenal fan should be. Fabregas was one of my favourite players over the past few years, as he was a true Arsenal player, someone who plays for the crest on the front of the shirt. When he left for Barcelona, I wasn’t upset at him, I just felt saddened. That’s the difference between him and Van Persie. When I first saw Van Persie in a Utd. shirt, I felt like I wanted to shoot him with a sniper. Seeing Fabregas in a Barca shirt is like seeing your daughter in a stripper outfit, their your creation but not in the right place.

Moving away from Fabregas, Arsenal’s defeat to Dortmund on Tuesday was our first defeat in a while, and it has got me thinking a little bit. Mainly, what is our main problem with the squad and how can we fix it. Many people will jump straight to the striker problem but I don’t feel like that is our real problem. Giroud is a fine striker and given the right opportunity he can be lethal, it’s just that he isn’t prolific enough. Our real problem is that good teams know how to break us down easily, as we are very predictable.

Watching the Dortmund game was painful at times in my opinion. It wasn’t like Norwich, as we didn’t have time with the ball. Almost every pass we tried to make was a risky ball just so that we can try to make the tempo of the game faster, a tactic which really showed that when teams know how to play against us, we are poor. The fact that Dortmund, our first real test of the season, can come to our own stadium and win almost every ball was poor. It should have been the opposite way, with us pressing for every ball. The Dortmund game was our first real test of the season, and we have to have a plan B for teams that are going to play like them. I can guarantee you that when the other big clubs in the league come to the Emirates they will try the same approach as Dortmund. 

So how do we solve the problem. Well we need to play wider and retain possession better. There have been a couple of times this season were we have been forced into the counter attack and luckily we scored on a few. For example, against Stoke, we were beaten on possession. How does the best passing team in the league lose to a rugby team on possession? We were only able to score thanks to three set pieces. Also, for a good sixty minutes against Norwich, we were on the back foot and seemed unable to do anything effectively. Thankfully, it only took one piece of quality football for the game to change. We aren’t going to get opportunities like that against Chelsea or City though. Against Dortmund, we were too flat during the first half and were unable to create anything due to this. In the second, when we put Ozil on the wing and had Sagna involved more, we were 10x more dangerous. Unfortunately, Dortmund punished us on the break.

This is the brightest Arsenal squad I have seen in a long time and I am very happy with the way things are going. With a couple of changes, we can be up there come the seasons end. COYG

Silent Stan Speaks! – Wenger to Sign New Contract?

Arsenal’s majority shareholder was in attendance earlier for the annual Arsenal General Meeting. Unfortunately, I was not there so I have no idea what was said. All I can provide you are some quotes said by Silent Stan. They are provided by Arsenal.com:

STAN KROENKE

“It is a pleasure to be here. This is my sixth AGM and it is great to be back. I appreciate people re-electing me to the board. Well, it was close to unanimous!

“Anyway, it is great to be here and I would tell you we are pleased with the progress of the Club and that is made up of a lot of things, most importantly on the pitch.

“None of us up here [on the board], fans, players, or Arsène [Wenger] are happy until we have won championships and trophies. We have said that over and over again and are committed to that.

“Also, when you try to build towards that, it is very important for the Club to be successful commercially, and we are very pleased with the progress we have made in that area.

“We have come a long way, with the debts of the Club being paid down, the commercial revenues are increasing in a nice way. Certainly you guys are aware of the Emirates deal.

“We have more [deals] coming and are confident. However, nothing works unless we have success on the pitch.

“The reason we got interested in Arsenal [after years of approaches from other teams] was… the tradition, the image and the success of the Club and that to me has been established by none other than our manager.

“In our opinion, with the values he stood for and the things that we value in sport, they were evidenced through him and through this club. So we are very pleased to be here and I couldn’t be more honoured to introduce our manager Arsène Wenger.”

From his words, he definitely sounds more like a businessman than a football fan to me. That isn’t bad on all aspects as you feel that his main goal is trying to get the club to get money through commercial deals and ultimately to make money. Making money transcribes to being able to sign players like Ozil so all in all, it is important to have someone who understands the business side of it. Plus, it seems like we are pretty secure in finances with him in charge, another positive.

There are many down sides to having a business owner. First off, they aren’t going to push to sign players that will make the team better. For example, Abramovich signed Shevchenko directly. Mourinho didn’t want him, Chelsea didn’t want him, Abramovich wanted him, so he got him. You aren’t going to see Kroenke wanting Rooney badly enough to get money from his own pocket to sign him. Usmanov on the other hand will do that and that is why many Arsenal fans, including myself, would love to see Usmanov on the board. He has a football heart and a gigantic wallet. What more can you ask for?

There has been talk of Wenger getting set to sign a new contract as well, which will make Arsenal fans happy. Oh how the times have changed in two months. We all remember what happened after that Aston Villa game. I don’t want to say that the reason we have been doing so well since then is entirely down to Ozil’s arrival, but it has had a very big, positive effect. He has given players and fans belief that we are competitive and good enough to win the title, and that is so important in having a side win the Premier League. You have to give so much credit to Wenger though, because without him, none of this would have been possible.

Arsenal plays Norwich on Saturday, full match preview tomorrow. COYG

Internationals Over… Thank God

Another international break is over. Hooray!

So a couple of Arsenal players got onto the scoreboard today. Most people were probably watching England v Poland as it was the only game worth watching. Szczesny did well in my opinion, as he was the only Arsenal player to start the game and really actually play in the game. Wilshere came on late on as Andros Townsend was preferred to him again. Can’t really blame Hodgson for choosing Townsend over Wilshere as Wilshere has been rather mediocre in recent performances.

Germany took on Sweden and won 5-3. Ozil scored a goal, made an assist, and unfortunately, picked up a knock. I didn’t see it but it would put some pain in my stomach to watch him get injured. I hope that it is just a bruise or knock and he is ready for Norwich on Saturday. Norwich can be tough to break down so he would be a big loss, however, we may be getting Cazorla back which is a huge positive. Many people have overlooked Cazorla in the past few weeks since we signed Ozil, but we all know of his true quality. He is a magnificent two footed player who Mesut Ozil will look forward to playing with. I just hope that both will be fit for the weekend.

Aaron Ramsey also grabbed a late equalizer for Wales, increasing his goal scoring tally to ten over the season. Pretty impressive for someone who was lucky just to score twice a season, especially considering it is just October. His recent form reminds me of Fabregas in the 07-08 season, where he really took the spotlight. It would be an amazing achievement for Ramsey if he can touch the surface of Fabregas’ performances in his final couple of years at Arsenal, and with hard work and 100% commitment I am certain that he can reach the heights. It looks like Real Madrid signed the wrong Welshman.

So that’s about it. Football is back on Saturday against Norwich at the Emirates. Let’s hope we have some good news over injuries over the next couple of days. COYG

Wenger Open to Spending Big Again- New Information Over Next Season’s Kits

Hello all and welcome to another slow news day on this wonderful time we like to call the “International Break”. I’m not really sure who it is a break for, as the majority of the players have to fly to all different parts of the world while we are anxiously waiting for the football to start back up.

Anyways, Wenger had a big interview today with Arsenal.com and revealed some juicy information over the Ozil transfer:

The timing of the deal was linked to the Gareth Bale deal, but also all the other deals as well because Real Madrid bought Illarramendi and Isco in the summer. When I first contacted Real Madrid, things were quite open. They also needed time for Carlo Ancelotti to get to know his squad better, so he could make a decision. So all these aspects put together explains why it happened so late. We had a big advantage, and that was that I had been in contact with Mesut before, when he first went to Real Madrid three years ago. I spoke to him back then on the phone, in the end he told me he wanted to go to Real Madrid, so I wished him well, but that first contact had been made. He knew that I wanted him for a long time, and this was not the first time I tried to sign him.

I always want to bring the best players in here, world-class players, at the best possible price. And I want to continue to educate 60 to 80 per cent of the squad ourselves. The culture of the Club, the way we want to play football and the way we want to behave, comes from within. The Wilsheres, the Ramseys, the Gibbs – these kind of players have to be the culture of the Club. Then on top of that we want to bring world-class players who will help us to be even stronger.

{On if Arsenal fans can expect 1-2 new big signings a season} If the big signings are needed, then yes. If it’s just for marketing reasons, then no. But for football reasons, why not.

Things are changing for the better at Arsenal as you can tell by Wenger’s interview. He seems to be much more open to this whole thing called “transfers”. I think that we will be spending money again in January and hopefully it is for another big name player, preferably a striker with the name Suarez, Lewandowski, Diego Costa, Benteke or Falcao.

I never really had any doubts over whether the Ozil transfer would be completed on time. I was just amazed at the amount of time it took from him to sign considering he had a medical with a good ten hours left in the transfer window. Of course the deal was tied with the Bale deal, and as Wenger confirmed it, it means that Tottenham pretty much sold us Ozil by them selling Bale to Real Madrid. It’s hard to see why Real wanted Bale instead of Ozil, as one is an injury prone over-hyped chimpanzee , and the other is Jesus Christ reincarnated. We got the better end of the deal, no doubt about it.

Moving over to Arsenal’s deal with PUMA, Arsenalinsider has given us new information about next seasons kits. Apparently, Arsenal will stick with the current away scheme which is yellow and blue for the away kit for next season. They have mocked up a photo of it to show what to expect.

From Arsenalinsder

Looks simple enough to me. You aren’t going to go wrong with yellow and blue for the away kit, as it is the original colors. Fans will surely be pleased with the design.

Now the third kit is going to be a bit different; Arsenalinsider says that it is going to be… dark turquoise! I am completely fine with PUMA going out of the way to use new colors for the third kit, as we will hardly be wearing it. As long as it isn’t pure white I am happy (or pink, those pink jerseys are usually nasty).

That’s all for today, not much going on but as always, I’ll keep you posted.

Jack is Falling Back- Wenger is the Man Above All Other Managers

Guess who’s back, back again, 
Jack is back, smoking cigs

There is a certain pressure that comes with being the only hope for the future of your international football nation. Wilshere has to be feeling it right now.

Fortunately for Wilshere, he is at the only club in England that will help him and nurture him into a fine footballer. I have doubts about him reaching his potential at other clubs, because really, Wenger is the best manager in the Premier League and he has the talent for developing players, even when they are in their mid twenties. Look at Giroud for example. He is developing into a fine natural goalscorer. When we first signed him, he seemed like he could maybe be the next Emile Heskey. Now, he is challenging for the the Premier League golden boot award.

So Wilshere was spot smoking last night by some creeper with a camera. There are quite a few contrasting opinions over whether or not he should be scolded or fined for doing this. Some people may say that it is his life and he can do what he wants to do with it, while others say that it is an unhealthy habit that can cause his career to stutter a bit. I personally believe that Wilshere is the icon for the next generation of football in England, and it is a stupid decision for him to start smoking. By doing so, you are encouraging young people around the world even to start smoking. Not only is it bad for your health but also your reputation as a footballer.

Wilshere posted a couple of weird tweets on twitter about smoking. The first was a picture of Zidane lighting up on a balcony. Is he trying to suggest that it is okay to smoke because Zidane smoked? Well, one difference between Zidane and Wilshere is that Zidane had already won the World Cup, Champions League, and Balon D’or. It’s not like you are going to sit Zidane out for smoking. Wilshere then put a tweet saying he doesn’t smoke. It could yet be a one time thing that he was forced to do because of his mates forcing it upon him, but if there are pictures of you smoking on the internet, than you can’t say you don’t smoke.

Wilshere in twenty years.

Wilshere has somewhat fallen behind in the pecking order this season. When it comes down to it, Wenger is going to have to choose between Wilshere, Rosicky, and Arteta in midfield. Out of the performances this season, Rosicky has looked sharp while Arteta impressed me highly against Napoli. Wilshere hasn’t really had a stand out game yet, so his first team opportunists may start to become a little bit limited. Of course, this can only be a good thing as it will mean that he will have to play with more of a spring in his step, which we all know he has.

Wenger was asked about it at his press conference:

“I don’t know really what happened [with Jack], I will need to have a chat with him about that,” said Wenger. “I disagree completely with that behaviour.

“There are two things: first of all when you are a football player you are an example, and as well you don’t do what damages your health.

“The fact [is] you can damage your health at home, you can smoke at home and you can drink at home, and nobody sees it, but when you go out socially you as well damage your reputation as an example.”

You can say many things about Wenger, but you cannot say that he is a bad man. Tell me, out of all the managers in the Premier League, which one seems like the most intelligent, friendly, and devoted? Yeah, there’s only one Arsene Wenger and he has been with us for 17 years for a reason. He may have had a stumble in the road over the past few years, but his time at Arsenal is a marathon, not a sprint. We will start winning things again once the time is right, not when we force it upon ourselves. The only thing we can do for the club right now is give them our support and be patient with them. Things are changing at Arsenal for the better, so let’s not go on a panic like we did last season or the beginning of this one. The  players need morale support and the fans are the only ones that can give them that.